KC Gardens

When it comes to summer gardening, follow your dog’s lead

Clancy, a terrier and also a good guide to gardening in the summer
Clancy, a terrier and also a good guide to gardening in the summer

From Dennis Patton:

Where has the time gone? Just seems like we were planting spring garden crops and now the 4th of July holiday weekend is upon us. As we know this past spring has been on the cool and rainy side. It has been hard to get out in the garden between all the rain drops. With the ample moisture I must admit my lawn and garden has never looked better. Only time will tell what July and August will bring.

The period of time in July and August are often referred to as the dog days of summer. This is the period that can be the hottest and driest days of the year. This is the time were we want to spend as little time as possible outdoors and more time relaxing in the air conditioning. The dog days of summer are not only hard on us but our beloved pets. We can learn a thing or two from them when it comes to dealing with summer patterns.

At the Patton home we follow our dogs lead on when to go outside and complete the gardening chores. Our guide for the outdoor conditions is Clancy our loyal and faithful Wheaton Terrier.

Just like us he likes to get out and prowl his domain early in the morning, making sure all the rabbits have been properly chased and no other unwanted varmint has wondered into the yard. His early morning hours are also our best time to water.

Early morning is the ideal time to water for several reasons. Mainly because that is the coolest part of the day and wind speeds are lower. That means less evaporation and distortion of sprinkler patterns for efficient water use.

Water can be applied at other times of the day, even in the heat of the afternoon as it will not harm the plants. The main problem is the increased evaporation because of the temperature and wind. No matter what your grandmother told you, water droplets on the leaves do not burn. This is an old wives tale.

If the water is applied through a drip or soaker hose, afternoon is a great time to apply as the water pressure is normally higher. That’s because of the increase in morning demand with all the showering and running of water.

During the heat of the day Clancy will venture outside but for only very short stays. He does his business, hits a few spots and gets right back inside to his coveted spot atop the air conditioner vent.

I use this same strategy with my chores. I will venture out, water the overheated containers to cool down, or maybe even pull a few weeds to die under the summer sun or deadhead a few perennials. But this may be accomplished in as little as 10 to 20 minutes before I really feel overheated.

Clancy then rests most of the afternoon. Unfortunately we do not have this luxury as we have many other projects. Remember it is a dog’s life. But come evening, when the sun starts to set, he is back at it with renewed energy.

This renewed energy is also our time to make hay in the garden. Evening watering is okay as long as we are not wetting the foliage in order to reduce diseases. I do a lot of watering with a wand right at the base of plants. Pretty much anything planted this spring gets a good soaking every several days, depending on the weather.

Evening is a good time to mow the lawn as this late evening time period is the best way to work around our ever-increasing air quality issues to reduce the ozone layer. Evening also is a good time just to stroll through the garden to enjoy all our hard work. I like to grab a bucket and a pair of pruning shears and deadhead, weed and do a little pruning going through the garden. It is amazing how much can be accomplished with just a few bursts of energy.

So take it from the Patton household; during the dog days of summer let’s all garden on Clancy’s schedule. It will allow us to keep up on the chores, and it will also be easier on the body and soul. I know each morning Clancy feels refreshed and ready to meet the challenges of another dog’s day. What a life!